Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants without soil. Alternative growing mediums for hydroponic gardening include water, perlite, vermiculite, gravel and sand. These growing mediums are inert, meaning they do not offer nutrients. Hydroponically grown plants receive their nutrition directly to the roots with a soluble pH adjusted solution, so the roots can focus on growth and production, rather than searching for food. You can grow any type of plant you like hydroponically, depending on your available space.
Tomatoes, squash, sweet peppers, hot chilies, chard, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, broccoli, beans and snow peas can be grown hydroponically with minimum space requirements. Leave the fruit and vegetables on the vine to ripen, and the crop will have more flavor than if you pick them too early. Hydroponically grown crops generally enjoy up to 30 percent faster growth than soil-grown crops, with yields equal to or greater than plants grown in soil. Soil-borne pests and diseases are also eliminated with hydroponics.
Rosemary, chives, thyme, basil, parsley and spearmint are among the easiest types of herbs that you can grow hydroponically. The pH levels are similar in all of these plants, so you can grow them with the same nutrients. One concern with hydroponically grown herbs is that they are not as flavorful as soil-grown herbs. Maximize your hydroponic herbs with nutrients specific to each cultivar and by planting the garden in full sun or by using artificial grow lights.
Start any type of flowers from seed in a hydroponic garden and transplant them into another hydroponic system when they are seedlings. The drawback of growing flowers hydroponically is that you cannot mix species in the same hydroponic unit as each type of flower requires different nutrients to thrive. This means you will need multiple hydroponic units to grow multiple types of flowers, or you can carefully select species based on similar nutrition requirements. For example, roses require high levels of potassium, more than most other plants can handle, so you shouldn't pair them with any other kind of flowering plant.